How to set up a pedal board so the pedals look good and don’t slide.
This is part 2 in a series on selecting the right pedalboard and configuring the pedals. To read Part 1, click here on Crafting the right guitar pedal board setup.
There are a few ways to attach effects pedals to a pedalboard. Some pedalboard manufactures have elaborate systems to keep pedals in place, such as squeezing the pedals in little vices.
Some people use simple plastic cable ties to hold their pedals down. Cable ties certainly keep pedals on the board, but the pedals inevitably move around, creating problems. Plus, the whole setup is not very visually pleasing.
I think the best solution is to use Velcro, or something similar.
Velcro was originally developed to hold clothing together. It comes in two parts, the hook tape and the loop tape. Each has sticky adhesive on the back. The hook tape consists of very small, flexible pieces shaped like hooks. The loop tape comprised of small, soft loops of plastic. When pressed together they get randomly tangled together. The resulting is a strong yet adjustable connection. To reposition a pedal, simply pull them apart.
Carpet can be used in place of loop tape. Carpet works because the hooks get tangled in the carpet. Carpet was used on many of the first pedalboards and is still popular among DYI’ers. The advantage of using carpet is that it’s possible to put a pedal anywhere on the carpet, not just where there is a couple of pieces of loop tape. But ultimately, carpet doesn’t hold very well. You don’t want your pedals un-hooking when you are in the middle of a guitar solo. If you are going to try carpet, go to the hardware store and get some indoor/outdoor carpet. It’s very durable and very fuzzy.
The best surface to stick the “Velcro” onto is something smooth and solid. For pedalboards, that’s powder-coated metal or varnish/painted wood. See my last blog post – Crafting the right guitar pedalboard setup – for sources of pedalboard manufacturers.
You will need industrial strength Velcro.
Standard Velcro will not stand up to the rigor of a pedalboard.
It still allows the pedals to move a lot, or worse become disconnected. Remember it was invented to hold cloths together. The same is true for generic no-name hook and loop. What’s really needed is industrial strength stuff. The best that I have found is 3M Dual Lock. It’s technically not hook and loop but rather tiny mushroom shaped “pins” (700 pins per square inch) on each piece that gets tangled together. Dual Lock gives four times the strength of hook-and-loop fasteners and goes together very tightly. The sticky side uses 3M 300 adhesive which is an excellent bond for plastic, metal, powder coated metal, finished wood and many other surfaces. It’s so strong that you can pick up your entire pedalboard by a single pedal.
There are also some hook and loop tapes made specifically for pedalboards. I don’t have experience with them, but you might want to check them out:
Setting up your pedals for mounting on your pedal board.
You are confronted with a “who’s on first” kind of question if you use hook and loop. Do you put the loop tape on the pedal or on the pedalboard? There are a million arguments in favor and against each way – including “its easier to get the cat hair out of the hooks”. For me the winning argument is to put hooks on the pedal because if you use the pedal separately, it will stick to the carpet you are playing on better. (We all play standing on Indian rugs like Tom Petty don’t we?)
But if you use 3M Dual Lock, it’s not an issue because both sides are the same.
Now for actually applying the tape. This can be painful for some people, because it means modifying your pedal. You need to remove the feet on the bottom. In some cases this is easy. Too easy, because maybe they have already fallen off! But some pedals have really hard feet to remove. Others have the entire bottom is a single rubber foot. Still others have screws holding them in place. Worst of all, some pedals are classic or vintage.
Loosely quoting a moment from the movie Spinal Tap. “Don’t even look at my guitars (pedals)” they are so special. Well, if your going to go with hook and loop fasteners, the bottom of the pedal has to be smooth and flat. Shut you eyes and do it. Save the feet for remounting in a future life!
Once you have gotten over the trauma of modifying your pedal. You can apply the hook and loop. Don’t cover the whole bottom of the pedal – especially if you use 3M Double Lock. You will have great difficulty getting it off.
Instead, cut two strips that are the width of the pedal and put one at the top and the other at the bottom. The width of the strip should be around 5/8” – which is a standard width. This is wide enough for strength but not too wide to make it impossible to remove. On the pedalboard, place a long strip of “loop” so you can position the pedals where you want them.
This brings us to the next issue: where to place the pedals and what are the best choices for cabling to interconnect them. This is the subject of my next blog post.
What does your guitar pedalboard setup look like? What kind of fasteners do you use to keep your pedals on your pedalboard? Comment below or send me a picture and a description. It’s OK if it doesn’t have Golden Path Pedals on it. – This is all about discovering new stuff along the path to perfect tone.